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Admittedly cognizant of the fact that guests were seated in folding chairs atop asphalt without shade in heavy humidity — and that they themselves were outfitted in heavy clothing and sitting in the sun — Bishop Frank Caggiano and Monsignor Robert Weiss oversaw a groundbreaking ceremony at St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church last week.
Celebrating the growth of Newtown’s Roman Catholic church, the men blessed the grounds that will have construction occurring on them, led song and prayer, and welcomed three groups of people for a ceremonial groundbreaking. Less than an hour after starting, everyone moved from the area they had been gathered, in front of the sanctuary, and crossed the parking lot, regathering inside the Holy Innocents Faith Formation Center, where they enjoyed refreshments in the air-conditioned coolness.
Approximately 100 people gathered for the ceremony, which was in turns solemn and serious and animated and celebratory.
Calling it “a day of great celebration,” Bishop Caggiano rejoiced in the fact that St Rose parishioners will soon have “a much larger, more welcoming and inviting space to worship and gather.”
The Church Hill Road parish is expanding its vestibule, renovating its sanctuary, creating a Garden of Peace, and improving its parking lot.
Those changes, the bishop told the crowd, are simply “the outward sign of what exists already within.
“You have an extraordinary parish,” he said, “on so many levels — a parish that knows what it means to celebrate and be in sorrow, to love and to accompany, to grow and leave no one behind.
“All this is so that the next generation may have a more beautiful space to do what is already beautifully done here,” he added.
During his remarks, Msgr Weiss said that one problem St Rose Church does not have is post-worship gatherings.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” he said, drawing a few laughs. “About half the parishioners linger after every Mass for fellowship. And now we’ll have the opportunity to have a space just for that, interior as well as exterior.”
Bishop Caggiano thanked those in attendance, highlighting the committee behind the capital campaign and thanking them for their work. He also thanked Monsignor Weiss, the pastor of St Rose of Lima, whose leadership, he said, “is crucial every day to the life of this parish.”
Msgr Weiss, the bishop continued, “is truly a man who loves all of you and the people of this parish, and without whom this project would not be possible.”
Fundraising and planning for this project has been ongoing for 2½ years, Msgr Weiss said Friday afternoon. People have responded very generously to the foundations of the campaign, he said. A large part of that, he added, was the affection many in the parish feel toward their bishop.
“His presence among us changes everything for the better,” said Msgr Weiss. “It’s a great sign of his support and encouragement, for who we are as a parish community. Not only have we walked together through the good times and the sorrowful ones, he’s walked them with us. That has made a huge difference in the spirit of this community.”
While the church has secured a line of credit from Union Savings Bank, Msgr Weiss on July 13 said he did not think his parish would need much of that.
“The way things are going, I don’t think we’ll have to tap too much into that,” he said. “We’ve had an overwhelming affirmation of this project,” he added later.
Msgr Weiss announced on Friday that as of that afternoon, a total of $6,050,000 had been raised “through the generous gifts of 835 of our parishioner families.”
For the blessing itself, Bishop Caggiano was joined by Msgr Weiss and Daniel Keogler, the latter serving as an altar server that afternoon. The trio first entered the sanctuary and then walked around the grounds that will be affected by construction.
The blessing included both the land and the construction equipment that had been parked for the afternoon.
The bishop also walked to the area where guests were seated, the majority of whom are directly involved in the capital campaign, its implementation, and the construction project. Raising the aspergillum filled with holy water, Bishop Caggiano blessed the attendees, many of whom bowed their heads and crossed themselves as he passed near them.
Because of the number of people involved in the project — and the large number of whom were on site Friday for the ceremonial event — three groups were invited to break ground.
Representatives of the St Rose Building Committee, Executive Committee, Sacred Arts Committee, Steve Picciano, Pat Llodra, Kelly Garbo, John Murphy, Gary Hawley and Hawley Construction, the church’s deacons, grounds crew, and others were all mentioned and then invited to take part in ceremonial groundbreakings. Msgr Weiss also thanked Charles Van Zanten (executive vice president), John Kuck (project manager), and Nick Ellis (superintendent), all of Hawley Construction.
Newman Architects; Brooks Fisher, the project’s architect; and Rob Manna, from LRM Inc, the project’s contractors, had also been invited, but they were unable to attend. Each was nevertheless thanked by the monsignor. The chairmen of the church’s Advance Gift and Major Gift Campaign committees were also thanked and recognized.
In addition to its own growth and construction, St Rose of Lima Church is also participating in an initiative called “We Stand With Christ: An invitation to Faith & Fellowship,” which includes all 82 parishes within the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Bishop Frank Caggiano, center, emerges from the sanctuary of the St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church after offering a blessing inside the building Friday, July 13. Joining him were Daniel Keogler, an altar server, on the left, and Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of St Rose Church, on the right.
Daniel Keogler, Bishop Frank Caggiano and Monsignor Robert Weiss continue their journey across the St Rose of Lima Church property during the blessing of the site and groundbreaking ceremony. In the foreground, 14 hard hats and shovels wait to be used by three groups of invited guests during Friday’s event.
Three groups of special guests had the opportunity to participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking at St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church last week, marking the formal start of a project that will expand the parish’s buildings and improve its property. Those in the first group were, from left, St Rose Deacons Daniel O’Connor and Norman Roos; Steven Picciano, Father Krzysztof Kuczynski, Gary Hawley, E. Patricia Llodra, Dr John Murphy, Monsignor Robert Weiss, Bishop Frank Caggiano, Susan LoPiccolo, Daniel Lansing, and Anthony Rowan.