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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Former Westport Priest to Take Over Troubled Darien Church

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The Rev. Frank McGrath:former Westport clergyman takes on new assignment. Bridgeport Diocese photo
The Rev. Frank C. McGrath, former pastor of Westport’s Assumption Church and Catholic chaplain to the Westport police and fire departments, will take over as new pastor at a troubled church in Darien.

Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport announced appointment of McGrath to St. John Church Saturday. He will take over beginning Monday.

McGrath, 61, who was at Assumption Church from 1993 to 1999, has been director of clergy personnel for the diocese while serving as pastor of Our Lady of Peace Church in Stratford.

St. John Church has been rocked by allegations that its former pastor used church money to support a lavish lifestyle with another man. The Rev. Michael Jude Fay resigned last month but has not been charged.

“Father McGrath is one of our finest priests, a man dedicated to spreading the word of God, a person known for his dedication, prayerfulness, good humor, and hard work,” Lori said in a statement.

“He has extensive and invaluable experience as a pastor, and connects easily and warmly with all age groups. I am confident that the parish family of St. John’s in Darien will grow to love and respect Father McGrath as a spiritual leader and as a friend. I have utmost faith in him.”

McGrath has many friends in Westport. He still responds to major Westport fires, often donning his department-issued fire gear on arrival at the scene. He also participates annually in the Memorial Day service at Westport fire headquarters, including the one last Monday.

He has also had a longtime association with Rescue Company 1 of the New York City Fire Department in Manhattan. Following the loss of 11 members of the unit on Sept. 11, 2001, he was on hand to minister to their brother firefighters and their families.

“It is always difficult to leave a parish, but this is the Lord’s call and I’m willing to serve,” McGrath said in a statement.

“I’ve been very blessed to serve at Our Lady of Peace for seven wonderful years. With serious consultation, Bishop Lori came to me and briefed me fully on St. John Parish. As a priest, I’m called to serve where I’m needed. I’m a shepherd.”

McGrath grew up in Stratford, graduating from St. James Elementary School and Notre Dame High School in Fairfield. He entered St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, and completed his theological studies at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, Md.

He was ordained in 1970 by Bishop Walter W. Curtis in St. Augustine Cathedral.

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Posted 06/04/06 at 01:13 PM  Permalink



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