BRIDGEPORT—Deacon Joseph M. Melita died Sunday, May 13, at the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield. He was 96 years old.
Born in Bridgeport on April 22, 1923, Deacon Melita graduated from Warren Harding High School in 1941 and served as Technical Sergeant in the Air Corps from 1943-1945. He fought in the Battle of Normandy and flew 55 sorties in dangerous combat that took the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.
He married Bernice Zaleski Melita in St. Michael’s Church in Bridgeport on September 24, 1946, and the Melitas raised six children.
Deacon Melita joined the first class of the Permanent Diaconate Program in 1975, and was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Bridgeport on February 25, 1978. He provided diaconal ministry at St. Raphael Parish in Bridgeport from 1988-2011 and then served at St. Margaret Shrine, also in Bridgeport.
Beginning in 1988, Deacon Melita served for many years as the Director of Catholic Scouting in the Secretariat for Christian Education of the Diocese of Bridgeport. He received the Bronze Pelican award, given to adults who give of their time to counsel, to lead, and to train young people to enrich the spiritual development of the Catholic Youth in the program of the Boy Scouts of America. In honor of his life-long contributions to Catholic Scouting, Deacon Melita was honored with the prestigious James E. West Fellow Award in 2004.
After his formal retirement from diaconal ministry in 2015, Deacon Melita continued to provide diaconal service at the Shrine, where he touched many lives through his faithful witness. He was given special recognition by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano at the First Annual Clergy Retirement Celebration Mass at St. Matthew Church in 2017.
A wake will be held on Thursday, May 17 at Saint Margaret Shrine located at 2523 Park Avenue in Bridgeport from 3:00-7:00 pm.
On Friday, May 18 at 10:00 am Bishop Caggiano will celebrate the funeral Mass at Saint Margaret Shrine and Deacon Don Foust will be the homilist. Vesting will take place in the Community Room beneath the Church.
Interment will take place at Long Hill Cemetery, 53 Middlebrooks Avenue in Trumbull.