The Pastors of Saint
Vincent Ferrer Church
Reverend Father Albert Karalis
Fall 1971 to May 4, 1977 (Died May 26, 1995)
Reverend Father Vito C. DeCarolis
May 5, 1977 to September 1983
Reverend Father Edmund S. Nadolny
September 1983 to September 15, 1989
Reverend Father Jeremiah N.
Murasso, Ph. D
September 15, 1989 to September 15,
Reverend Father Kevin J Forsyth
September 15, 2003 to present
The History of Saint Vincent Ferrer
“To forget one's ancestors is to
be a book without a source,
a tree without a root.”
Father Albert Karalis, pastor
From Fall 1971
to May 4, 1977)
Early in 1971, Monsignor
Healy, pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Church announced that a new
parish was about to be founded on the east side of the Naugatuck River in
Naugatuck as mandated by John Francis Whealon, the Archbishop of
Hartford. For a time the parish
would be a “mission church” and Saint Francis would be its Mother Church.
In the fall of 1971, Father
Albert Karalis was named as the first pastor of this newly formed
mission parish. Masses were
celebrated at the Knights of Columbus Hall on New Haven Road. The parish started small but gradually
grew in membership. People started
to get excited and more involved. The
Ladies Guild was the first organization to be formed, C.C.D. classes
began, and energetic parishioners initiated many fund-raising functions.
In the spring of
1973, as the faith community grew, a larger space was needed in which to
worship. At the same time, the
Knights of Columbus needed their hall for their own purposes. As God truly provides, we were blessed
with the use of the Cross
Late in 1974,
Archbishop Whealon announced that our parish would be dedicated as Saint
Vincent Ferrer Roman Catholic Church; we would no longer be a “mission”
parish. The name Vincent Ferrer was
unique as there wasn’t another parish in the Archdiocese with this
In winter 1974, Father
Karalis purchased the present site on which the church now stands. The Bontempo family owned the
property. At that time, the only
building on the property was a small house; it became the rectory. The purchase caused some disappointment
with a few parishioners because of its overall condition. It would need a lot of work. Nevertheless, we forged ahead.
In May of 1977, Father Karalis was given a new
assignment as the pastor of Saint Casimir’s Church in New Haven. He died on May 26, 1995. May he rest in peace.
Ed. Note: A 10th
Anniversary Mass is scheduled for Father Karalis on May 25th,
2005 at 7:30am).
Father Vito C. DeCarolis, pastor
From May 5,
1977 to September 1983)
Father Vito DeCarolis
was assigned as pastor of Saint Vincent Ferrer on May 5, 1977, and given
the great task of building a church.
He will always remember his ordination day, December 8, 1954, at the
North American College in Rome. It was the 100th anniversary
of the declaration of Mary’s Immaculate Conception as a defined dogma of
faith by Pope Pius IX, and he was one of 33 men to be ordained priests that
The influence of his
family and the priests in his boyhood parish, Saint Anthony’s in Bristol,
is what helped foster vocations for him and his brother, Father Joseph
DeCarolis. Father Vito DeCarolis
remembers becoming an altar boy in fourth grade, and being part of a group
that parish priest “took under his wing.”
“Father Steve” as he was known, took them on picnics and other trips
before being assigned as a chaplain in the U.S. Army in 1940.
Father Vito DeCarolis
began his ministry at Saint Joseph in New Haven and Saint Jude in Derby
before returning to Our Lady of Lourdes in Waterbury, where he was born. He was police chaplain in Waterbury, famous for
sponsoring the “Cops and Robbers” charity basketball games. “We beat them all the time,” he
said. In 1978, he became Pastor of
Saint Vincent Ferrer in Naugatuck. Seven later, he was transferred to
Immaculate Conception Church in Waterbury,
and in 1995 he went to Saint Mary in Milford. He retired in 2000 and now lives in Union City.
His first week at
Saint Vincent Ferrer, Father engaged the Calabrese Construction Company in Waterbury to clear the
land. As a favor to Father
DeCarolis, the Calabrese Company donated the use of their heavy equipment
(bulldozers, trucks, etc.) and approximately $40,000 in labor costs. For weeks bulldozers leveled the grounds,
removing brush and trees, and correcting the drainage of water. Natural springs flow under the land.
Although Cross Street School
was being used for weekend Masses, we did have a rectory, and with the
dynamic flow of energy Father had, he immediately began fixing the rectory
and had a chapel built for morning Masses.
Eighteen days after he arrived, the first morning Mass was held in
the new chapel with approximately 40 people worshipping.
In short order, the
middle level of the grounds (where the present church exists) was leveled
off and cleared. The Ladies Guild
presented $3,500 to Father Vito and in turn he purchased a huge tent
measuring 80’ x 100’ from the Roy Tent Company in Norwich.
The poles of the tent were spruce from the Adirondack Mountains near
Lake George. On Saturday, July 16, 1977, with the help
of 52 men and women the huge tent went up.
At 4:00pm that same day, our first Sunday Vigil was celebrated in
the tent. We experienced many
problems with the tent as it was old and tore easily when strong winds or
bad weather prevailed. It had to be
repaired many times.
One of the first fund-raising functions was a
Parish Fair held on August 25, 1977 on the grounds where the town flea
market is presently located. On
September 24, 1977, the parish sponsored a spaghetti supper, which drew a
great crowd of about 1,300 people, with three sittings. Much progress was being made. The upper level of the church grounds
were being cleared and leveled. By
October 1977, a section of land (where the Continental Room is now) was
prepared for the new hall. Ground
was broken and construction of the building began. Again, we experienced setbacks. The weather just wouldn’t cooperate. The hall was to be completed within 5 to
6 weeks. Our deadline was early
November. It was finally finished in
In the meantime, our
tent was getting too cold for services, and after many repairs it was no
longer serviceable. In fact, during
one Sunday morning Mass in late October, a strong gust of wind completely
demolished the tent. Consequently,
we had to go back to Cross
for Masses. The hall was finally
completed just in time to celebrate our first Mass on Christmas Eve 1977 as
In April and May of 1978, we began a
Building Campaign Fund in order to raise the necessary capital to begin the
construction of the church. A
building committee was formed by Father DeCarolis, which chose Paul W.
Reilly, A.I.A. as architect and planner from Rumson, New Jersey
to draw up the plans. Soon a drawing
of the church was displayed.
Bids went out and O & G
Construction from Torrington,
Connecticut was chosen. Ground breaking began on August 2,
1980 and completed in 1981.
Masses were now held in the new church. The parish was growing and becoming more
involved. Father DeCarolis deserves
much of the credit. The work here
was enormous. Preparing the grounds,
the lower and upper levels for the buildings were a great
accomplishment. The property when
purchased was in very poor condition.
The cost to level the land, clear it, dynamite and blast the ledge
was an enormous burden. Father gave
much of his time and physical labor in addition to his other parish responsibilities. His dedication was overwhelming in
getting the job done. Father
DeCarolis stepped down as pastor of Saint Vincent Ferrer in August of 1983.
Father Edmund S. Nadolny, pastor
1983 to September 1989)
In September of 1983,
Father Edmund Nadolny became the third pastor of Saint Vincent
Ferrer Parish. He made a few changes
in administrative personnel. One of
his first major projects was to have the parking lot, upper and lower
levels, paved with asphalt. This
paving gave the parking lots a new look.
Soon after, two sisters came to assist Father in the many parish
duties. They were well received by
the parishioners. The house that we
knew as the rectory now became the convent and home for the sisters. The second floor of the Church wing
became the new rectory.
Father Nadolny was
instrumental in forming the Child
Care Center. He also took the garage that was used for
storage, expanded and renovated it to what is now the parish Family Center (our church hall.)
On November 20, 1983,
was dedicated with Archbishop Whealon officiating. Father Nadolny, Father DeCarolis, and
Father Joseph DeCarolis (Father Vito’s brother) concelebrated. Deacon Earle Kimball served as deacon of
the Mass. The dedication was a huge success. A relic of Saint Vincent Ferrer was
embedded and sealed into the altar by the Archbishop.
In early spring of
1984, Father DeCarolis, who had been living in residence since he stepped
down as pastor in August of 1983, accepted a new assignment at the Immaculate Conception
Church in Waterbury. Many parishioners were very sad to see
Father Nadolny worked hard at
paying off a large debt incurred from loans taken with various parishes
during the construction of the church.
In September of 1989, Father Nadolny left Saint
Vincent for a new assignment.
We wished him well and good fortune in his new endeavor.
as She Goes
Father Jeremiah N. Murasso, Ph.D., pastor
15, 1989-September 15, 2003)
Murasso, formally co-pastor of Saint Vincent DePaul
Parish in East Haven, was appointed the
fourth pastor of Saint Vincent Ferrer by Archbishop Whealon effective
September 15, 1989. He studied at
the Gregorian University in Rome,
Cambridge and Oxford
Universities in England, and Trinity
College and Fairfield
University here in Connecticut. He has five master’s degrees, two
sixth-year certificates, has a Ph.D. in psychology and a second doctorate
on the way. He has also successfully
engineered two parish building development campaigns and participated in a
number of civic activities.
Father Murasso grew
up in Hartford and graduated from South Catholic High School. He completed his studies for the
priesthood at the North American College in Rome,
and while in Rome
received a master’s degree in dogmatic theology. He also taught at the University of Rome and Notre Dame
International University in Rome.
Upon returning to the United
States, Father Murasso served at Our Lady of Mount
Carmel in Meriden and Saint
Joseph in New Haven before
becoming Co-Pastor of Saint Vincent de Paul in East
Haven, overseeing renovation of the church and the expansion
of the parish school. He also served
a chaplain to the East Haven police and
was active in the town’s fair housing commission and food pantry.
In 1989, he was
appointed Pastor of Saint Vincent Ferrer Church in Naugatuck, where he served for 14 years,
also helping to revitalize the parish’s church renovation program. From 1990-1997, he also served as
Executive Director of Saint Francis Home for Children in New Haven,
Highland Heights, a 110-bed residential and day-treatment facility for
emotionally disturbed and sexually abused children.
During his tenure as
pastor of Saint Vincent Ferrer, the parish community continued to grow, as
numerous ministries and organizations flourished. The official parish rolls included over
1600 families, representing the full spectrum of people, young and old. On November 1993, Saint Vincent Ferrer
celebrated its Tenth Anniversary of the dedication of the Church, with a
Parish Pot Luck Dinner and Celebration, a Concert, and a special Anniversary Mass.
In 2001, a major fund
raising Capital Campaign was begun to attend to several major maintenance
problems. A new furnace was
installed, a new roof over the church and rectory, and new bathrooms
installed in the parish’s Continental Room.
tenure, hand painted portraits of our three former pastors were
commissioned and painted by artist Judy Jaworski. They were hung and dedicated in the
hallway of the Wing of the Church.
In August 2003, Father purchased two large garages that replaced the
truck that had been used for storage for several years. On September 15, 2003 Father Murasso was
appointed Pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish in South
Windsor. Shortly before
his departure, a portrait of Father Murasso, also painted by Judy Jaworski,
was hung next to our other former pastors.
Father Murasso holds the record as our longest serving pastor – 14
years! We hold him in our memories
and in our hearts!
Additional information is currently being
compiled and written by our parish historian, Stephen Tufanario. Check back for more on the Murasso years!
Like The Present
Father Kevin J Forsyth, pastor
15, 2003 – present)
Daniel A. Cronin appointed Father Kevin Forsyth as our fifth pastor,
effective September 15, 2004 – his 47th birthday. It was Father’s first pastorate and the
Archbishop’s last official appointment of a pastor as Archbishop of
Hartford before his retirement. (For
several months, Archbishop Cronin continued to serve the Archdiocese as
“Apostolic Administrator” and made a few more appointments of
pastors). Father Forsyth had previously
served as Administrator of Saint Clare Church in East Haven (for 3 months);
Saint John the Evangelist Church in Watertown (for 66 days); Saint
Joseph Church in Waterbury (for 3 years) and Saint Mary Church in New Britain (for 1
year). After serving in these
temporary administrative assignments, he was most happy to settle down and
settle in for an extended term as pastor here. Father didn’t move into the rectory alone
– his 11-year-old yellow lab & beagle mix dog “Annie” moved in
Forsyth wasn’t here 2 hours before his first emergency. He moved in Sunday September 14th. Father Larry LeClair was scheduled to
celebrate the 4:15pm Mass.
Unfortunately, Father fell in the sanctuary some 25 minutes before
the start of Mass, ripping the skin between his fingers. Finally convincing Father LeClair to sit
out the Mass 5 minutes before it was to begin, Father Forsyth stepped up to
the plate, with no homily prepared, and not knowing a single soul. The parishioners resoundingly welcomed
him. After the Mass, Father LeClair
was finally talked into being taken to the hospital by the organist and
cantor where he received 7 stitches.
days later, a major storm hit the area, felling two trees on the
property. Father’s first question,
“Who do we call?” Chanda (the parish
secretary) that’s who! She knew
exactly who to call and Father’s second emergency was settled. One more to go before the week is
over! Another fierce rainstorm hit
and after a while drops of water were falling from the ceilings in the
Secretary’s office, the CCD Office and the Pastoral Minister’s Office. Only the new Pastor’s Office was
dry! The rectory deck above the
offices was retaining rainwater: the drains were clogged! The company that installed the new roof
the year before was summoned, and they cleared the drains and the waters
receded. This was a warning: more
would have to be done with this deck, and soon.
were “tight” when Father arrived as expenses exceeded income. Father immediately made cutbacks and
began watching the budget closely.
Six months later, there was $50,000 in checking, all funds in
savings intact, and the financial outlook improving with the passing of
each month. Father admits to being a
political moderate, but a true fiscal conservative.
the time of Father’s arrival, the parish census had declined to around
1,000 registered families, with only about 700 families “actively”
worshipping on a regular basis. The
three Sunday morning Masses had long ago been reduced to two. As almost everywhere else, especially in
the Northeast, Catholic parishes continued to decline in numbers. 50% of Catholic households simply do not
worship on a regular basis any longer. Father Forsyth set evangelization of
inactive Catholics in Naugatuck
as a top priority of his administration.
One area where Father knew we
could reduce costs was in the position of a full time Pastoral Minister;
what we needed was a part time Youth Minister. In the spring of 2004, an ad hoc
committee was formed to draw up expectations and a salary range. In July, applications were accepted with
interviews the first week of August.
On August 15 – on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the parish
welcomed to the staff our new Youth Minister – Doreen Russo Ryan.
two months earlier, on June 25, 2004, newly ordained Deacon Emil Croce
joined the parish staff as an Associate in Pastoral Ministry. Ordained on June 12th, 2004 by
Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, he was quickly and warmly welcomed. He came to us from Saint Francis of Assisi Church
along with his wife Nancy. Emil
continued his full time job as supervisor in the United States Postal
works for Naugatuck Savings & Loan, the bank in which the parish has
several accounts. Deacon Emil, as
part of his diaconate ministry will chair the Social Concerns & Service
committee of the Pastoral Council.
He will preach once a month at the Sunday Masses, direct the Baptism
program and baptize, direct the RCIA process and Adult Confirmation
program, conduct wake services, coordinate the Lectors, Ministers, and
Altar Servers, and help prepare couples for marriage.
spent the first year of his pastorate establishing the Pastoral Council in
line with guidelines published in 1988 by the Archdiocese of Hartford. New committees of the Council began to be
formed. The first was the Buildings
& Grounds Committee with Chair Tom Festa. This committee would oversee all aspects
of the parish buildings and grounds, including maintenance and use. Four more committees will form soon: Spiritual
Life & Evangelization, Social Concerns, Stewardship &
Service, Education & Formation, and Liturgy, Worship
mid-August 2004, Carol Beebe, DRE, submitted her letter of resignation
saying she wanted to utilize her new degree in history and English
literature, full time perhaps in a teaching position. So, the search for a new DRE began. As CCD classes were beginning in only 4
weeks, the search would have to be swift.
By August 30, Stephen Kenny was hired as our new Director of