Yale Catholic Chaplain to Look after St. Mary’s in New Haven and Oversee City Churches

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NEW HAVEN – The chaplain of St. Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale will assume the new role of moderator of the city-wide Roman Catholic parish on December 1, according to the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Reverend Ryan Lerner, 40, will also serve as pastor of St. Mary and St. Joseph churches, replacing Reverend John Paul Walker, one of the Dominican friars who is leaving St. Mary as part of the Archdiocesan plan of Hartford. merge the 10 churches of New Haven.

Reverend Anthony Federico, 38, pastor of the parish of St. Brigid of Sweden in Cheshire, will become parish vicar, assisting Lerner in the ministry of St. Mary and St. Joseph. The parish of Cheshire includes the churches of St. Bridget and St. Thomas Becket.

The Dominican friars had resisted leaving the priory where the order has been based in New Haven since 1907. In addition to the parishes of St. Mary and St. Joseph, they have ministries at Quinnipiac University, Albertus Magnus College and Knights of Columbus, Who Carry On.

The archdiocese had offered other roles to the brothers, but would not let them continue to minister in St. Mary or live in the priory, which will be the central residence of the priests of the archdiocese based in New Haven.

St. Mary’s Church in New Haven

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut media file photo

Lerner said that while there is pain and anger over the departure of the Dominicans, he believes the collective experience of the parishes in the city and St. Thomas More, as well as other Catholic institutions , such as Albertus Magnus College and St. Martin de Porres Academy, will be of benefit. to Catholic life in New Haven.

“The initial injury that accompanies a major change – it needs to be addressed,” he said. “We have weathered storms before and coming through these times of change has finally made the Body of Christ stronger. “

He highlighted the diversity of Catholicism in New Haven, with parishes dedicated to Italian, Hispanic, Black and Polish communities, as well as members of the Yale community in St. Thomas More, St. Mary, St. Joseph and St. Joseph. other churches. “I think there’s something about this global perspective of this Catholic faith that it’s an opportunity to learn from each other and grow together,” Lerner said.

The Reverend Ryan Lerner, chaplain of the St. Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale, distributes the ashes on Ash Wednesday.

The Reverend Ryan Lerner, chaplain of the St. Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale, distributes the ashes on Ash Wednesday.

Robert Lisak Photography Photo contribution

“When we can come together and share the diversity of our Catholic experience, the myriad ways we approach and meet Jesus Christ… enrich what it means to be part of the Body of Christ,” he said.

Lerner said he was excited to take on the moderator role, which will make him “first among his peers” along with the other New Haven pastors, some of whom will be living together at 5 Hillhouse Ave. “The first thing is to become a pastor of St. Mary, which is currently linked to St. Joseph,” he said. The municipal model of the archdiocese means that eventually the other parishes in the city will become so.

St. Thomas More will remain an independent chaplaincy, Lerner said. He said there were no immediate plans to close churches. Reverend Sebastian Kos, administrator of Saint-Raymond de Penafort Church in Enfield, will become pastor of Saint-Stanislaus Church, a Polish parish, on January 1, the archdiocese has announced. He will replace the Vincentian fathers who, like the Dominicans, had been warned that the archdiocesan priests would take their place.

Lerner called the implementation of the municipal model a “whole process. It’s not like December 1, all of New Haven is going to be one church.

Reverend John Paul Walker, left, and Reverend Jordan Lenaghan stand during an interview in the chapel inside the priory of St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut on October 7, 2021. Walker and Lenaghan are Dominican brothers and live in the priory.

Reverend John Paul Walker, left, and Reverend Jordan Lenaghan stand during an interview in the chapel inside the priory of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut on October 7, 2021. Walker and Lenaghan are Dominican brothers and live in the priory.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

While the Dominicans, who have overseen Saint Mary for 135 years, will no longer be present, Lerner said the Dominican tradition is “a deep and deep part of this history” and will continue to be. For his part, Lerner said: “I would say that my spirituality is imbued with the spirituality of Saint Francis of Assisi.

The priory of St. Mary's Church, New Haven, Connecticut, October 7, 2021. The priory is home to Dominican friars who serve St. Mary and other parishes in New Haven.

The priory of St. Mary’s Church, New Haven, Connecticut, October 7, 2021. The priory is home to Dominican friars who serve St. Mary and other parishes in New Haven.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

Lerner has been chaplain at St. Thomas More since March 2019. He grew up in Manchester, raced cross country and track and field at Manchester High School and later served as an assistant track coach at Trinity College after graduating from this school. He was ordained in 2014 and served at St. Margaret’s Church in Madison and as the Archbishop’s Secretary and Chancellor.

Lerner said the Yale communities in St. Thomas More and St. Mary were “kind of paradigmatic” of young people leaving church. “They are very present,” he says.

Federico, who was born in New Haven and lived in West Haven and North Haven, said: “It’s just a homecoming for me. I couldn’t be more excited to meet the people and start my ministry there.

He said “it’s definitely a bittersweet time” to leave St. Bridget, his first posting, after two and a half years. People have been so wonderful to me. … I will always be grateful to the people of St. Bridget.

He said he was “aware of the number of strong emotions involved” at St. Mary’s, with “a sense of loss and pain and not to be heard.”

“We will do our best to be available and transparent during this transition period,” said Federico.

Kos was born in Poland and immigrated 15 years ago, according to the archdiocese. He was unavailable for comment on Thursday.

Tacy Woods of Guilford, a longtime parishioner in St. Mary’s, said she knew Lerner when he was in St. Margaret when he brought Communion to nursing home residents. “Father Ryan has always been very responsive with enthusiasm. I was impressed with him.

She said Federico is “so different from our Dominicans, but I feel like he might be the right fit right now. … Father Anthony seems very popular with young people. He has very casual, cowardly videos.

In 2012, Federico was fired from his job as web producer at ESPN for writing a headline about Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks, the NBA’s first Asian American, which contained a racial slur, which he said. then said to be “an error in judgment” and that horrified him when he realized what he had done.

He said he wanted to focus on his new ministry at St. Mary’s and had felt the call to the priesthood from the age of 15. The ESPN incident “has been a powerful experience of forgiveness, second chance and redemption,” he said.

Federico said he plans to bring “energy, excitement, enthusiastic love for the Lord Jesus Christ” to his new post.

Archbishop Leonard Blair issued a statement saying, “I am very grateful for the goodwill of the Fathers. Lerner and Federico to take on these important responsibilities.

Archbishop Leonard Blair of the Archdiocese of Hartford leads a dedication mass in the newly restored chapel of the Assumption Church in Ansonia, Connecticut on February 9, 2018.

Archbishop Leonard Blair of the Archdiocese of Hartford leads a dedication mass in the newly restored chapel of the Assumption Church in Ansonia, Connecticut on February 9, 2018.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

“Their dedicated service to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Hartford gives me great confidence in making these appointments and in the fruitfulness of their future ministry. Frs. Lerner and Federico, the community of St. Mary and all of New Haven can be assured of my prayers for them during this time of transition, ”he said.

The priory of St. Mary's Church, New Haven, Connecticut, October 7, 2021. The priory is home to Dominican friars who serve St. Mary and other parishes in New Haven.

The priory of St. Mary’s Church, New Haven, Connecticut, October 7, 2021. The priory is home to Dominican friars who serve St. Mary and other parishes in New Haven.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

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