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History of Saint Pius X Parish

Stained glass window, above choir
loft, depicting Saint Pius X
In the late spring of 1956, the Capuchin Friars of the New York/New England Province had decided to establish a novitiate home in Connecticut for their lay brothers. The Reverend Finian Sullivan, OFM Capuchin, a member of the provincial board, approached His Excellency Bernard J. Flanagan, Bishop of Norwich. Their discussions led to the decision to include in the foundation a new parish in the rapidly growing Westfield district of Middletown. The Diocese bought sixteen acres from Frederick and Harry Donahue, and the Robert A. Green architectural firm of New York was engaged to draw plans for the church and Friary.

On March 5, 1957, the Transcript announced the establishment of a new parish under the patronage of Saint Pius X. Bishop Flanagan, who named the church Saint Pius X, said it was named this "because of Saint Pius X devotion to the Eucharist and active participation in the Mass." A week later, the Rev. Walter O'Brien, OFM Capuchin, and the Rev. Augustine Konzer, OFM Capuchin - pastor and assistant pastor - arrived in Middletown. They stayed briefly at the Cenacle until renting the John V. McKinney home on Ballfall Road. The first Parish meeting was held at the temporary rectory on March 27. There, the spirit of cooperation, alive in the Parish today, was born. The Parish became truly operational with the first parochial Masses on Sunday, April 28 at Spencer School. Groundbreaking took place in July. Warren Mylchreest, Inc. was selected as contractor for the $300,000 church. The friary was paid for by the Capuchin Friars. The numerous projects for the social and financial betterment of the Parish were climaxed by the building fund campaign directed by the Community Counseling Service.

An early photo of the Saint Pius X Church building
In 1958, the church won the Distinctive Design Award sponsored by Catholic Property Administration magazine. Two years after the first Sunday Masses, the church was dedicated with a Solemn High Pontifical Mass celebrated on April 12, 1959 by the Most Reverend Bernard J. Flanagan, DD, Bishop of Norwich.

Only eight years later, the mortgage was burned following a Saturday afternoon Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by the Reverend Walter O'Brien on May 20, 1967.

Expansion

In the summer of 1970, the Capuchin Brothers were transferred to Saint Lawrence Friary in Milton, Massachusetts. The Parish bought the Catholic Information Society building from the Capuchin Friars for $133,000, investing $40,000 more in renovations to provide eight classrooms and a director's office. Thirteen years of dependence on Spencer School for religion classes came to an end, but not the sense of indebtedness to the Board of Education for its consideration over the years. Since the establishment of the Parish in 1957, it has grown to over 1,600 families. It has experienced changes in its structure and renewal in its spiritual growth.

35th Anniversary

On August 29, 1993, Saint Pius X Parish concluded its 35th Anniversary Mass of Rededication of its worship space and plans for re-energizing its spiritual life. The rededication marked the completion of a new look at Saint Pius X. "This involved," said Fr. Richard Donaldson, Pastor, "cleaning and painting the interior worship space and separate projects to make it more liturgically proper and more beautiful." This included new appointments in the Sanctuary, a new Baptismal area, and a new Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The new Baptismal Font featured heated water that is circulated and spilled down the front in a continuous flow. A new entrance or gathering space was added and outdoor landscaping was enhanced. The new area offers a sense of community and fellowship for those entering to worship, or for weddings or funerals.

In his desire to direct the growth of the Diocese, Bishop Reilly convened the First Synod of the Diocese of Norwich in 1990. This event gave goals and directions to the Diocese and the parishes. Saint Pius X participated in the Synod and created a Five-Year Planning Committee to implement the directives and recommendations of the Synod. The Committee took the directives and recommendations and used them as tools for improvements to parish life as well as improvements to the property and community as well.

Bill Fortin Memorial Hall

Bill Fortin
For thirty-one years, William (Bill) Fortin served the Parish faithfully and with great expertise in a multiplicity of ways. Yes, he was the Parish Maintenance Man, but he was also far more than that title may indicate. He did so many things, so very well, with great dedication and a wonderful spirit. He was an inspiration to all. As a token of deep affection and appreciation, it was decided that the Parish church hall would be dedicated as the Bill Fortin Memorial Hall. A plaque was affixed to the wall in the hall on June 16, 1995 at the annual workers' Thank-You party.

In 1996, the Parish began preparation for the Third Millennium. During the preparatory phase, the Parish focused on the Trinity and the task of bringing Christ to the world in the year 2000.

50th Anniversary

In 2005, with Father Robert (Bob) Abbatiello as our Pastor, and the 50th anniversary of Saint Pius X approaching, parishioners began planning for the 2007 Jubilee with a Capital Campaign project and celebration of the Year of the Eucharist. In 2006-2007, a year-long celebration of the Jubilee was held with a Birthday Party, Parish Family Picnic, Spiritual Revival, Lunch for Seniors, Lunch for Original Parishioners of Saint Pius X, website launch, and a Jubilee Dance. The Parish received a gift of the Statue of the Blessed Mother under the title "Lady of Grace," and the statue traveled to homes of parishioners. Masses were celebrated in homes.

In 2007, renovations to the church and grounds were begun. A new organ was dedicated, and during the period of renovations, services were held in the Bill Fortin Memorial Hall. Rededication of Saint Pius X Church was held on August 16, 2007 by Bishop Cote. New projects were completed as part of the Capital Campaign. These projects included: refurbishing of the interior lights, painting and staining the interior of the church, remounting of the Stations of the Cross, installing a new Baptismal Font as well as new pews, flooring, roof, and sound system. Exterior renovations included: repair and refurbishing of drainage problems in the parking lots, repaving, reconfiguring the handicapped parking, and landscaping. Over the next few years, additional projects were undertaken, including refurbishing the Faith Formation Center and the Bill Fortin Memorial Hall, which included a major renovation to the Hall's kitchen.

The Resource Center
On April 12, 2009, parishioners celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the dedication of Saint Pius X Church. That same year, the Library Resource Center in the Faith Formation Center Building, which provides books and resources for all members of the Parish, was opened. Over the next few years, the "Why Catholic?" program, which gives adults the opportunity to journey together in renewing their faith, was begun. Also begun were the Rolling Deck Ministry, which assists and supports individuals with "special needs," and the "Centering Prayer Group," which explores the rich Contemplative tradition of the Catholic faith.

Many groups and ministries have been established at Saint Pius X over the years: Secular Franciscans, Rosary Altar Society, Men's Club, Justice and Human Dignity, RCIA, CYO, to name a few. Many more groups and ministries have provided a source of outreach for parishioners, the community, and the world. A Bereavement and Support Group was formed to help those who have suffered losses in their lives; Eucharistic Adoration; the Christmas in April Project, to repair homes for the elderly, Bible Study, Peer Ministry Group, Book Clubs, Blood Drives, the Haitian Ministry, with several parishioners traveling to Haiti, the Capuchin Youth and Family Ministry, Appalachian Mission, SHARE Program (Sharing-Helping and Reaching Everyone); Advent Giving Program, Garden for the Poor, and ongoing support for local services for poor and needy, Marriage and Baptism Preparation Programs.

The Peace Pole
In 2003 a Peace Pole was installed at Saint Pius X on the vigil of the International Day of Peace, and was recently re-landscaped. We have had many programs for social and personal interaction for families that help in friendship, growth and caring such as Easter and Christmas programs for the youth, family day, family bingos, golf tournaments, trips, prayer breakfasts, etc. We continue to support all the programs of the Diocese including the Annual Catholic Appeal, the National Combined Collection for World Charities, the Mission Combined Collection; and the Safe Environment Program.

Future

Saint Pius X Community in 50+ years has been a vital part of the lives of not only our parishioners but those in other communities, other states and around the world. There is "something for everyone" at Saint Pius X from the young to the elderly. The programs, projects, groups, etc., the Parish has had over the more than 50 years have reached out to our local and international communities in the form of collections of food, resources and money as well as individuals personally taking part in these programs. Our parishioners have improved their own prayer and faith life with the many programs we have offered over the years. The youth of Saint Pius X have benefited from the wonderful activities and involvement of the Parish as well as the talents of our catechists helping them form their faith for life's journey through religious formation.

The Parish is fortunate to have parishioners who have participated over the years in all its ministries, celebrations, and pleas for help for the homeless and less fortunate. We hope that the next 50 years will be as fruitful and prosperous. Nothing we as a parish or as individuals could have been accomplished were it not for the continued love, guidance, and care of GOD, Our Heavenly Father.

Pastors

There have been eleven pastors at Saint Pius X over the years...
Fr. John Gallagher, OFM Cap
Fr. Gerard Mulvey, OFM Cap
Fr. Robert Abbatiello, OFM Cap
Fr. Frederick Nickle, OFM Cap
Fr. Richard Donaldson, OFM
Fr. David Bona, OFM Cap
Fr. Kieran Ahearn, OFM Cap
Fr. Christopher Dietrich, OFM Cap
Fr. Gregory Reisert, OFM Cap
Fr. Peter Claver Eich, OFM Cap
Fr. Walter O'Brien, OFM Cap
2011 - present
2008 - 2011
2002 - 2008
1995 - 2002
1990 - 1995
1984 - 1990
1981 - 1984
1976 - 1981
1970 - 1976
1964 - 1970
1957 - 1964