NEW CANAAN—February 10, 1965, was a cold, rainy, snowy and sleeting day. Deacon Bill Scheyd was worried that he might not make it to his ordination Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport. His car was slipping and sliding as he made his way to become a priest, but he made it, and the diocese has been greatly blessed ever since.
On Sunday, February 8, at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan, Msgr. Bill Scheyd celebrated his 50th anniversary Mass as a priest, to the great joy of hundreds of people in attendance, including clergy, religious, family, friends and parishioners. The church was packed for the regularly scheduled 11:30 am Mass that served as the anniversary liturgy, but this was no ordinary Sunday parish Mass. In attendance were 13 concelebrating priests; 3 choirs; 6 altar-servers; 2 deacons; 1 Cardinal; 1 Bishop; a harpist, a percussionist and a horn section. This was grand liturgy!
In his remarks before the final blessing, Cardinal Egan said, “In Msgr. Scheyd we have all been blessed with a great priest.” In response, the entire congregation stood and gave Msgr. Scheyd a lengthy standing ovation. Bishop Caggiano explained to the congregation that when he first arrived in the diocese, Msgr. Scheyd gently took him aside and said, “Bishop, whatever you need, I¹m here to help you.” This was an assurance that gave the newly minted Bishop of Bridgeport great comfort.
Msgr. William Joseph Scheyd, born and raised in Bridgeport, has been Vicar General for four successive bishops in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Cardinal Egan mused that such a feat must be some kind of record. When he was thirteen years old, Bill Scheyd was among the throngs of Catholic school-children who greeted the first Bishop of Bridgeport, Lawrence J. Shehan, at the Bridgeport train station. This was 1953, when the Diocese of Bridgeport was formed from the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Msgr. Scheyd¹s 50 years as a priest have nearly spanned the life of the diocese. Cardinal Egan quipped that we should all mark our calendars now for Msgr.’s 75th anniversary celebration, to be held in 2040. Msgr. Scheyd replied that he would be delighted to have the Cardinal attend his 75th! During his homily, Msgr. Scheyd partly attributed his lengthy career and perseverance to genetics. “My father worked in the same company for 46 years,² he said. In truth, Msgr. stated, ³Without Jesus Christ we can do nothing.” He explained that this Mass was an act of thanksgiving to God. “I am grateful to God,” Msgr. said, adding that he is also grateful to all who have helped him serve 50 years as a priest, many of whom were present. “Trying to imitate Jesus Christ is a great challenge,” he said. “You all have been for me the strength and support which has brought me to this day.” He also thanked his special and powerful patron, St. Joseph (from whom he received his middle name).
After the Mass, all were invited to a reception in the church hall where a beautiful cake was inscribed with a message that summed up the day: “50 and counting! Thank you!”
What return can I make to the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will raise up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. (Psalm 116: 12-14)