St. John Vianney Fund – Our Retired Priests at Our Queen of Clergy

More than two decades ago, the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy Residence was built to offer independent living for our retired priests. This independent living facility was conceived under Bishop Edward Egan, who served as Bishop of the Bridgeport Diocese from 1988 to 2000. Original building construction began in 1998 on the campus of St. Bridget of Ireland Parish in Stamford and it opened in 2000 with seventeen (17) apartments plus two guest suites. Understanding that the need would arise to expand as a larger number of clergy reached the retirement age, Bishop Frank Caggiano commissioned new construction in 2017 adding sixteen units for a total of thirty-three. It is simple: healthier priests mean stronger communities and Queen of the Clergy does so much for our incredible retired priests, who in turn do so much for us and our communities.

While our priests are so gracious in administering to the needs of others, it can be extremely easy to forget that they, too, have needs as individuals, especially as they approach their senior years. Our elderly priests, who for decades have celebrated our marriages, baptized our children, and blessed our loved ones who have been called home to God, continue to serve the sacramental community as spiritual leaders, counselors, teachers, and friends.

We are grateful for our retired priests who are with us at life’s most important moments. For priests, being a servant of God is a daily calling that extends far beyond the walls of the Church and impacts the lives of all people – regardless of their race or religion – throughout the entire community. Across the cities and towns that comprise the Diocese of Bridgeport, our priests remain an integral presence at the center of extraordinary causes that enrich the lives of so many. And every day there are countless examples of priests who work so tirelessly and selflessly to make their respective communities a better place to live, all while asking for nothing in return. And all these examples share an essential common thread – they do not just enrich the lives of Catholics in the community; they enrich the lives of everyone.

QOTC is managed daily by Victoria Hickey as well as an advisory committee led by Msgr, William Scheyd, Vicar for Senior Priests for the Diocese of Bridgeport. Msgr. Scheyd, now retired, was involved from the very beginning in the construction of this facility and to this day he continues to assist Victoria Hickey in the management of Queen of the Clergy. Victoria Hickey was hired by the Diocese in 1999 as Executive Director and continues in this capacity to this day.

The priests are very well cared for. Three meals per day are prepared for them and QOTC carries a full staff including night watchman among the other duties required to run the facility.
A barber is schedule monthly and any resident may sign up for a $25 fee. A podiatrist also visits in accordance with Medicare provisions and residents may sign up to be attended.
Each of the residents enjoy the privacy of his own living quarters which includes a sitting room/study, a bedroom, bath, and small kitchen area, although most eat all meals exclusively in the dining room. A dedicated team offers individual support and advocacy to priests with health concerns as they navigate the health care system.

Many of the residents say Mass together in the Chapel at 11:30 a.m. before eating together. All residents have access to a chapel, community room, library, exercise room, and dining area. Most association is at mealtime and they all respect each other. Each Tuesday all the residents gather before dinner in the Living room to socialize and celebrate other significant events. That said, they have the camaraderie of other priests, can come, and go as they please. While they have ceased to serve the Diocese of Bridgeport as full-time parish priests, several remain highly active and continue to serve in our parishes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals across Fairfield County

QOTC is committed to supporting the physical and emotional health and vocation of the eligible senior priests in the diocese. Since 1964, our mission has been to provide our resident senior priests with unmatched holistic care to support their quality of life and changing needs. This enables them to continue dedicating their later years to their lifelong vocation of praying for us in our times of both joy and sorrow.
The Diocese of Bridgeport has been blessed with so many wonderful senior priests who, for decades, have devoted their lives to serving God by making our communities stronger. QOTC is proud to serve as a strong community for them. Our team encourages priests to adopt a lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, sleep) that promotes their physical health. We realize that physical health influences mental health, spiritual health, and emotional health and we hope that our priests will learn to better manage their physical health by using the tools we provide to them.

There are 78 priests in the Diocese of Bridgeport over the age of 72. The Diocese of Bridgeport ensures that sufficient living quarters are available for them. Some of these men continue to live in parishes while others enjoy independent living on their own. Our senior priests have devoted most of their lives to us and the Church, which represents over 4000 years of service. The current residents of QOTC have amassed over 1000 years of ministry.

“The priest is not a priest for himself.
he does not give himself absolution;
he does not administer the Sacraments to himself.
He is not for himself; he is for you.”
St. John Vianney

Foundations In Faith succeeds the Faith in the Future Fund, a not-for-profit endowment created in 1996 through a capital campaign to support education and pastoral ministries of the Diocese. Faith in the Future has supported these ministries and is poised to grow and continue this work as Foundations In Faith.
One of the goals of Foundations in Faith is to bring together the many wonderful Pastoral Care Ministries in our Diocese which is why you will find nine endowment funds within Foundations In Faith, each with a specific purpose and mission. The St. John Vianney Fund is one of the nine.
The St. John Vianney Fund is designated to meet the needs of our retired priests who have faithfully served the people of God within our diocese. We are pleased to report that Foundations In Faith was able to approve a request to the St. John Vianney Fund for a grant in the amount of $50,000 to support the Queen of the Clergy Priests’ Residence general operating expense. Foundations in Faith values the hard work, devotion, and dedicated services of our priests. We are profoundly grateful for all that our retired priests have given to our community and for being with us at life’s most important moments.
The We Stand With Christ capital campaign initiated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano because of the Diocesan Synod to address the needs of the Church in Fairfield County has been transformative. “We Stand With Christ is an overwhelming success and a testament to the generosity of the faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport, along with the tireless efforts of our pastors and hundreds of volunteers,” said Bishop Caggiano.
The campaign has designated 50 percent of the funds raised for long-term needs of parishes and the remaining 50 percent will be invested in diocesan ministries. Foundations in Education, Foundations in Faith, and Foundations in Charity are the three lay-run non-profits funded by WSWC which are committed to Catholic education, Faith formation and Catholic charities of Fairfield County. Each of these three foundations has an independent lay board dedicated to their mission and is entrusted to oversee the funds allocated to them.
“Foundations In Faith is committed to supporting and transforming pastoral ministries in the Diocese of Bridgeport by fostering a spirit of accompaniment and encounter in our church, providing grants for innovators in our parishes, and funding key pastoral ministries ranging from Evangelization, Religious and special Education, priestly formation and support and beyond”.
“Foundations In Faith is ushering in a grassroots revitalization of pastoral care ministries,” said Kelly Weldon, Director of the foundation. “It is spinning a spiritual thread that aims to connect people in the pews to their everyday journey as living breathing disciples of Jesus Christ. Our Catholic community is strong”. Foundations In Faith, as Bishop Caggiano once said “is all about discipleship”

Now that you know a bit about Queen Of The Clergy, stay connected for stories of these wonderful men. We hope to initiate a memoirs group at QOTC so priests can put some of their incredible stories on paper – sort of a “Who Knew? What better way to gain recognition than to tell the stories of our incredible priests? For instance, did you know that Msgr. John Sanders, known to jazz fans across the country as the priest who played in the Duke Ellington Band, was a resident at QOTC. Another QOTC story is Msgr. Thaddeus Malanowski who was born in Stamford and completed 72 years of priestly ministry. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of Brigadier General, being appointed as Deputy Chief of Chaplains for the Army. Many other stories abound about missionary work, military service, and extraordinary community outreach.

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Nick Yanicelli
Foundations In Faith, Board Member
Advocate, St, John Vianney Fund