BRIDGEPORT—Reverend William F. Sangiovanni passed away on Monday, February 4, at Bridges Memory Care Assisted Living in Trumbull. He was 77 years old. A full obituary with details on the Mass of Christian Burial and other funeral arrangements will be published as soon as it becomes available.
“The overwhelming sense of loss that many are feeling upon his death is a tribute to his vitality and vision, and the gift of his friendship experienced by so many people in our diocese and beyond. Father Bill knew how to create community and how to use his considerable political and social gifts to inspire charitable service and bring out the best in others. As a priest, educator and natural leader, he had an impact on lives of generations of young people and their families,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.
Perhaps best known for his service as principal and later president of Notre Dame High School in Fairfield, Father Sangiovanni also worked in state and local government before becoming a priest and brought an entrepreneurial skill to his ministry and public service.
His creation of the annual GarlicFest as a fundraiser for Notre Dame High School brought new energy and local and national attention to the school, after he was appointed principal by Bishop Edward M. Egan in 1994. He was named president of the school by Bishop William E. Lori in 2010.
On March 19, 2017, Father Sangiovanni celebrated his 40th anniversary as a priest, and he was honored at the 60th anniversary celebration of Notre Dame High School.
Many also remember Father Sangiovanni for his involvement and leadership in missionary and volunteer efforts in Appalachia. He was the founder and member of the board of directors of Appalachia Volunteers, Inc. He also led a delegation of young people to serve on the Sioux Indian reservations of South Dakota.
Born in Brooklyn, Father Sangiovanni first came to the diocese and enrolled in Fairfield University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history. He also earned a master’s degree in Education and Arts from Fairfield University.
He completed his theological studies at the Seminary of Our Lady of Angels at Niagara University and was ordained by the Most Rev. Walter W. Curtis, second Bishop of Bridgeport, in St. Patrick’s Church in Bridgeport on March 19, 1977.
Prior to his ordination, he was highly regarded for his service in government, where many expected him to run for office. He served as special assistant to the Minority Leader of the Connecticut General Assembly and as assistant to U. S. Congressman Stewart McKinney from 1969-75.
His first priestly assignment was as Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick’s Church in Bridgeport. He was named to the faculty of Notre Dame High School in 1980 and became the school’s spiritual director the following year. He later served as director of chaplains at Sacred Heart University.
In 1991 while teaching at Notre Dame he was appointed to the State of Connecticut Ethics Commission by Governor Lowell Weicker and later became vice chairman. Father Sangiovanni also served as part-time chaplain at the Bridgeport Correctional Center for 11 years.